Like so many others in America, my heart just broke into a million pieces when I read the story about young Phoebe Prince. The Massachusetts teen had been the victim of harassment, stalking, isolation and basic bullying for the last month. She had all she could take in January and her parents came home to find her dead body hanging in the stairwell leading to their apartment. Phoebe and her family had beenin the U.S. for a couple of years. Her parents are from Ireland.
I don't know a lot of the details about Phoebe's case, but my heart goes out to her parents. I only wish I had known about it in January when she died. I would have traveled to massachusetts and hugged her. I would have liked to get some chips and salsa and just talked...helped her hang on until dawn. I can remember a night in the seventh grade when I wondered if living until the next day was worth it. I know Phoebe tried. She just couldn't take it anymore. And I don't think we should really judge her. Perhaps we should judge her classmates and, yes, the teachers and administrators who saw what was going on but did nothing to stop it.
I know many of us on gather have shared (often for the first time anywhere) that we were victims of bullying in middle or high school. Bullying and its aftereffects are hard to understand unless your middle school years were a big nightmare...and I'm not talking about just not being popular. I'm talking about lying awake night after night dreading the alarm clock because you don't know what horrors the next day will bring. I had a speech problem and could not pronounce r's and w's. I guess this is what signaled me out for the ridicule of the entire middle school. I lived in fear of being called on in class, knowing that other kids would mimic my speech. Sometimes the teacher called the students down. Sometimes the teacher laughed along. I'm not a whiner, but I was raised not to fight, to turn the other cheek. And then there's the famous line most parents utter: they're just jealous. No mom, they're not jealous. They're blood-thirsty hunters and I am their prey.
I don't have children, but I was under the impression that bullies were handled swiftly in the wake of Columbine, Paducah and nameless other schools. Am I wrong? How is your schoool system handling bullies. I think we should educate our loved ones and get involved in local school systems.
It's the least we can do for Phoebe.